Lydia Krasner, the owner of Mitzvah Event Productions and Charming Expressions, has been creating and orchestrating extraordinary events in the San Diego area since 1995. She holds degrees in Photography and in Art Education and has an extensive background in theater, lighting, and design.
Lydia began her creative career as a Judaic Art teacher and director, and for 18 years dedicated herself to educating her students. Then, over 20 years ago, when asked if she could “make the room pretty” for a Synagogue fundraiser, she jumped at the opportunity. The rest, as they say, is history.
She quickly made a name for herself within the community as the “Bar/Bat Mitzvah Baleboste”… and an event planning business was born. Lydia considers her Judaic education a great asset and truly enjoys sharing her knowledge with the event planning community through speaking engagements at seminars and conventions and through her membership in several industry associations. She is one of the founding members and President of BESA, the San Diego Bar and Bat Mitzvah Association. She has also been a committee member for “The Celebration for the Critters Food, Wine & Brew Event” at the San Diego Zoo for over 10 years, which raises funds for Conservation and Research for Endangered Species. Lydia has taught at The Special Events Convention all over the United States for over 10 years.
She keeps up with trends and hospitality education by attending and speaking at local seminars. She has voluntarily assisted with décor and fundraising for over 45 Temple events. Mitzvah Event Productions executes an average of over 40 events each year, and as an event planner, Lydia is known for her creativity, organization, expert production, tireless dedication, and authentic design. “Love is in the details.”
What are 2 trends in the event planning industry that you’re excited about?
Two trends in the event industry that I love are interactive dessert stations and texture. Texture can be brought to an event in many ways including linens, metals, pillows, furniture, chairs, and more. There are many layers to creating an event space and blending textures together is always an exciting mix!
I adore interactive dessert stations because it gets the guests up and moving again after dinner. It creates movement in the room and definitely adds to the “fun factor”. Everything from donuts, gelato, and from frozen bananas to the candy buffet, guests have so many choices and several opportunities to socialize.
What are some tips for creating an elegant and memorable event on a tight budget?
The most memorable events are not necessarily the most expensive ones. Lighting is always the biggest bang for your buck. Most ballrooms are a neutral palette and as well as colored linens, lighting is another amazing way to create warmth. Any space can come to life with a splash of color on the walls!
Another way to make your event pop is to really dig deep into the theme (if there is one) and bring in little touches to represent. It may be something as simple as a candy bracelet as a napkin treatment for a candy theme. Guests notice the small touches and appreciate authenticity. We also always decorate the restrooms with nice liquid soaps, lotion, themed nail files, hairspray, etc. In a four hour event, usually everyone takes a trip there, and guests always are surprised to see the restrooms themed to match the event! Love IS in the details!
How important are your relationships with vendors and what are some ways that you successfully cultivate and ensure good rapport?
Relationships with vendors are the key to success. When a vendor is responsive and gives great service to me and the client, they move from vendor to team member. We are ALL part of the team and by working together to support one another, the client has a great experience and we are all successful.
A few colleagues started the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Event Services Association in San Diego 19 years ago and I have been Co-President and now President of the organization for 10 years. By getting to know one another at regular meetings as well as working together on weekends and referring each other, we all grow our businesses and those relationships continue to flourish. With any vendor, there has to be a level of respect and kindness. That can be the key to a successful event!
What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
After being in business for over 20 years, I still walk away from every event thinking to myself “What could I have done differently?” or “How can I improve the way tonight went?”. I am humble about what I do, and with the constant fluctuations in venues, themes, vendors, guests, etc., there is always something to learn from each party.
In the future, I look forward to each event and theme with excitement and walk away at the end of the night knowing more about how I can improve next week. I am always inspired by events and find ways to improve as well as new ideas. One day I would love to write The Mitzvah Diaries to share all the stories from our crazy weekends!
What inspired you to launch your own company in the event industry? How long did it take from initially having the idea to setting up and starting to attract a client base?
I started my company completely by accident. I was planning proms and the likes in high school as class president my senior year and then working at Nordstrom and other retail jobs I planned many fashion shows and trunk shows. I really didn’t think I would still be doing this so many years later!
When I was teaching art at a synagogue, they asked me to plan their annual fundraiser and I happily took on the task. I have a background in theater, so I brought in sets, backdrops, lighting, and props that worked with the theme. They loved what I did and raised a lot of funds, so I was asked back the following year. One of the guests approached me and said she was having a Bat Mitzvah and needed some help. It was like a lightbulb went off in my head! So many people plan weddings and corporate events, but who is planning all the Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s every weekend?
As my name got passed around, my business grew to be what it is today and I still love what I do! The best part was that I became pregnant with twins and I was able to work from home and make my own schedule while raising a family.
What’s the most surprising or unusual request you have ever received from a client and were you able to fulfill it?
I have been asked for llamas, drag queens, and many unusual requests. I always love a good challenge! Other than the recent request for a Ferris wheel (the venue was too small), we usually come through with the request if it is in reason!
I once had a New York theme and the client asked for an actor dressed as a bush to jump out during cocktail hour and “scare” the guests as they wandered through the foyer. I had to squash that idea even though he argued with me because I reminded him how many dry cleaning bills would be coming his way after each person threw their glass of red wine up in the air when they got spooked! I find that much of my job is educating the client along the way!